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Century 21 Calling

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Century 21 Calling

Published 1964

Romp through the futuristic landscape of the Seattle World's Fair, centered in the Bell System pavilion.

Run time 13:56
Producer Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions
Sponsor American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT&T)
Audio/Visual Sd, C


Shows and explains telephone services of the future, many of which have been on exhibit at the Seattle World's Fair.

a "gee whiz" teen boy and girl visit the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Many good shots of various pavilions and exhibits at the Fair, including the Bell Telephone exhibit showcasing 1960's "cutting edge" telephones and communications. Excellent shots of the SPACE NEEDLE (panning up, day and night shots, and filmed at night atop the Needle looking out over Seattle. Also, view from Space Needle elevator as it rises to the top, at night.)

Shots of monorail.



Reviewer: ERD. - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 29, 2015
Subject: Upbeat film
Two teenagers having fun at the 1964 Seattle World's Fair. Lively & pleasant film focusing on the AT&T exhibit when this company was still a powerful monopoly.
Reviewer: bubbabear64 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 22, 2012
Subject: An video where AT&T pats themselves on the back
This video pretty much focuses on the important discoveries at a time when AT&T could be more regarded as a pioneer in consumer electronics. The important demonstration in this video wasn't really the touch tone phone, it was the transistor that is used in every electronic device we used today made by AT&T in which the engineers of the transistor would be given the Nobel Peace Prize for. This led to the elimination of tubes and smaller electronic devices that we use on daily basis today. In those days, AT&T was a big computer company just like IBM creating the UNIX operating system and the C computer language which we still use to develop software for computers to this day.

Telstar would also play a role at the fair too since it was the first communications satellite launch in the world with the financial backing of AT&T in 1962. Video footage from the fair was relayed to Europe with the help of KING TV via Telstar.

Just about everything that was demonstrated in this pavilion did happen when it comes to daily communication (except for the turning on and off of other electrical appliances). Two years later AT&T would demonstrate the videophone and test marketed it during the fair but it didn't pan out until the web camera and high speed internet was in our hands.

This is a very different exhibit that the one that would be done 12 years later at Expo 74.

This video shows how the Belltown and Denny Regrade sections of Seattle looked like before the .com explosion happened in the 1990s turning the neighborhood into pricey condos, high tech offices, and bars with pricey martinis.
Reviewer: uniQ - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 21, 2011
Subject: Clearly not
Fortunately "Century 21" is different from what they thought it was going to be. Essentially these two go running around the Seattle World's Fair and spend some time in the Bell System building looking at the wonderful new telephone technology such as push button dialing (You can see how much faster you dial!), direct distance dialing (can you still call a phone number to get the local weather?), the "Electronic Central Office", and, as noted below by mrzero, a very dangerous home automation system!!

Finally they go to the space needle; check out the elevator operators with capes!
Reviewer: - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 20, 2010
Subject: FIRST Hacking possibility ever !!!!!
Didn't anyone else go HEY they can hack me ! After the telephone operated house ? Because someone could really get your harassed with activating and deactivating the house gadgets.

I'm going to telephone activate Joshes wotering system 24/7 that idiot is going to pay ! His woter bill is going over the roof ! HAHAHAHAHA.
Reviewer: longfade - - June 17, 2010
Subject: Cloying
I live in Seattle, and LOVE the city and its history. It's neat seeing 60's-era Seattle, but those kids and their saccharine, giddy over-selling is just too much for me; it makes me feel like I'm drowning in cotton candy. I've found in my life that people who appear that preternaturally happy are to be avoided at all costs.
Reviewer: doowopbob - favorite - April 15, 2010
Subject: ....Gawd...
.....Never Waste Your Time On A Giddy Woman..!
Reviewer: oakieoak - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 14, 2010
Subject: I Are There
It is easy to identify with Century 21. I was 25 and went there with my fiance. We were in awe of the predicted future. Alweg offered to extend the monorail to Sea-Tac Airport for about $10M and the political visionaries said "NO!" As I type this review for the website,with my 3G IPhone on my hip, my bluetooth in my ear, it seems odd that we were so impressed with "touch tone dialing", etc. etc. But is is sure great fun to do a take on our perspective in 1962.
Reviewer: whoanellie - favorite - April 8, 2010
Subject: An Eye-Opener For Me
Was the Seattle World's Fair really that dull?
Reviewer: Seto-Kaiba_Is_Stupid - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 14, 2009
Subject: Not Perfect, But Has Value
Certainly dis-jointed, as another reviewer noted. Not bad though. Some of the ideas/inventions are now common, some are best left forgotten and some could use a comeback.

The music at the start is so good that yep, I'll give it an extra star. Overall, 5/5.
Reviewer: MikeManners - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 14, 2009
Subject: These Kids are CRAZY!!!
The reviewer Spuzz is right. These white Anglo-Saxon kids are down right rude!! Not that you darker skinned people are any better. But I am talking about this film.

They run in front of people at the fair. They cut in line. Their over enthusiastic psychosis seems to be a disruption to the whole theme of the fair.

I would LOVE to take this ADHD big dress wearing girl to a Motel 6. If she almost had an organism of emotion when seeing a model of an Atom....well.....I would send her to the moon. It looks as though she needs to be pounded in bed and given MANY organisms to quench her over active metabolism.
Reviewer: Steve Carras - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 19, 2009
Subject: Hmmmm...!
An odd duck of a Industrial flick. As Dodsworth the Cat said correctly, it has recognizable stock themes, including the Ozzie and Harriet theme at about 4 minutes. The Light Melodic 13 at 3:19 is great in my opinion as well. The tracks were from the mid fifties-late fifties library, and written by Jack Cookerly, Emil Cadkin, William Loose and Phillip Green according to everything that I've research.

Jerry Fairbanks had a VERY interesting and varied career..Speaking of Animals, and the produciton of Crusader Rabbit with Jay Ward.
Thanks to Dodsworth for updating us on the identities of the composers. Phil Green alone did a lot of stock cues. I had tried to find the show Happy with Ronnie Burns, and which I had mis-remembered Mickey Rooney as being involved with for some reason, and was tyring to get it on here after seeing only a little elsewhere..I had cau8ght a glimspe of Little Amy and Meet Corliss Archer earlier--these also had similiar cues..]
Reviewer: Dodsworth the Cat - favoritefavorite - August 15, 2009
Subject: An Industrial Film Mish-Mash
This truly is a disjointed promotional film because it begins as a 1962 Seattle World's Fair travelogue. It takes four minutes and 50 seconds to get to the point: this is meant to push the wonders the folks at Bell will bring you today and into the future. Then it becomes a travelogue again. Take out the Bell portion and the rest of the movie could have used for any potential Fairbanks client.

Only the Bell segment was shot with sound, with a sudden and short narration by Dick Tufeld, the voice of the robot on Lost In Space. His brief vocal appearance almost appears to be an after-thought as if to try to bind the two disparate elements of the film together.

The poor unnamed teenaged actors in this one seem to been given a couple of bags of sugar before the cameras were turned on. A glucose high can be the only explanation for the utter glee the girl has in seeing a mock-up DNA molecule. (The boy looks as if he could have been one the Brewer twins engaged in time travel).

The Fairbanks Studio utilised the Capitol Hi-Q library for the music. At 2:44, the cut is PG-263 'Light Vermillion', at 1:36, it's PG-266 'Traffic Signal Green' while at 3:19 we get PG-275 'Daffodil Yellow', a personal favourite. And at 4:30, it's PG-270 'Blush Rose'; all are by Phil Green. Unfortunately, the film editor just mashes them together without any flow, as if he had an hour to put together a soundtrack.

The less said about the second-rate Jerry Vale-style jingle praising the future, the better.

The opening music, which sounds like it was started from a too-tightly-cued reel, is SF-221 'Vitesse' by Roger Roger.

Director Robert Larsen may be the Robert W. Larsen who directed "The Narcotics Story", a 1958 quasi-documentary narrated by the King of 50s Movie Trailers, Art Gilmore (who, before going to Hollywood, worked in radio in the Seattle area).

The highlights of the film are no doubt the same things that would have interested audiences in 1962. The perspective view of the monorail is a nice opener, even if a little clich├ęd. Then there are all those Wonders of Tomorrow, like (gasp!) phones that don't have dials, and phones that can help water your lawn. The opening theme is great for fans of that era's production music.

It's not a great, or even well-crafted industrial film, but it has enough interesting little spots to be worth a view.
Reviewer: eb4423 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 23, 2007
Subject: Nerd Dream Date
These two nerds are having a great time! That girl is so excited about the future!!! I agree with Spuzz, make sure to notice all the reactions of other fairgoers from the line jumping.
Reviewer: C-CUBED - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 20, 2007
Subject: Almost Jetsons
Interesting to see that some of the innovations making their debut in '64 actually did happen - but not for close to a full generation after...
For example, domestic "call waiting" and auto-dialing did not come into use in the home until the 1980's. Before the cellphone was ubiquitous, I remember using a small beeper/tone to check my phone messages at home [from a remote location like a telephone booth!] on the answering machine in 1984 - and this was supposedly rather revolutionary.

Certainly a number of options were available for corporate use earlier on, but very expensive and out of reach for the domestic consumer. Sad how things can take such a long time for general acceptance. Nevertheless - I always enjoy the cheerful "wonder of it all" optimism of these films. It seems now, we're all just so jaded with our "done that/been there" attitude. Do they even have a World's Fair anymore? Or is that an impossibility now - that everything is obsolete within a month or two, so an exibit of the future would end up being in the past?
Reviewer: beautymuse - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 15, 2007
Subject: A Nostalgia for the Future
I was 10 and I was there at the Fair, in my own back yard: Seattle. For six months I thought that Century 21 was the way things were and were going to be. Air cars! Smart pills! The emerging wonders of new technology and space exploration. I was given a pass and I went every day I could, especially inthe summer. The Space Needle 8x and the cathedral-like U.S. Science Pavillion 16x, where I bought paperbacks of One, Two, Three...Infinity by George Gamov and Science and the Modern World by A.N.Whitehead. I saw a million dollars worth of $1.00, C21 memorial coins all together in a transparent cage. I rode the Sky Ride, the monorail and the bumper cars countless times and bought and ate a slice of the worlds largest cake. I collected brochures and memories from every friendly nation on earth (at the fair all nations were friendly). Such promise! Such optimism! Such admirable naivete'. Who could imagine the assasination of JFK, MLK, and RFK?; the quagmire of Vietnam, the clash of culture and counterculture and the slow cynical decline of American values just around the corner in time? Alas! For "one brief shineing moment" it really was, for one ten-year-old boy at least, Camelot. To this day there is a painful emptiness where that sense of unending goodness used to be. But I wouldn't trade my memories of Century 21, the Seattle Worlds Fair for anything on earth.
Reviewer: bread - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 27, 2006
Subject: Enjoyable
Enjoyable film made to advertise telephones. Not one of the greatest films in the archive, but still good. Historcial interest 4/5, fun factor 4/5, "I cant believe i found it!" factor 4/5.
worth downloading. Thanks Mr prelinger!
Reviewer: XDelusion - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 25, 2006
Subject: Native Culture so quickly forgotten
What amazes me about these old videos is how quickly American bought into the White Man's Burden, and how quickly they forgot that other people were here before them.
Reviewer: J. DeKay - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 27, 2005
Subject: How'd Hilary Do That?
How did Hilary Duff travel back in time to star in this 1962 chestnut?
Reviewer: 1973 Dodge Polara - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 28, 2005
Subject: Rolfe And Liesl On Vacation
Very Well Done Movie From Jerry Fairbanks.Well Worth The Download.
Reviewer: Jilly9 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 19, 2005
Subject: David Rose music?
Sure sounds like David Rose did the score for this.
Reviewer: Rosenkavalier - favoritefavoritefavorite - January 29, 2005
Subject: Antiquated
I find it a little infuriating that they have been working on it for at least 41 years and we still do not have phone-controlled homes (well, we do, some places, but in infancy)
Reviewer: Steve Baldwin - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 15, 2004
Subject: Terrific Time Capsule
I agree with the reviewer who stated that he continues to be amazed at the unearthly power of 1964's Central Office - a system that can "almost think for itself".

The eeriest part of this film was the strange, elegiac theme song that appears at the end, while our young pair are staring up at the Sky Dome. Now that we're in the 21st Century, it seems to be an age tottering on the brink. But back in '64, "Century 21" was a wonderful thing, and this theme song captures the euphoria perfectly.

No, the future ain't what it used to be.
Reviewer: MediaWhore - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 11, 2004
Subject: futurama
Its funny how I'm still amazed by all of these gizmos and gadgets they show in this movie even though our technicalogical progression has grown so much since then
Reviewer: BillWoodson - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 20, 2004
Subject: You can find more photos of the fair at
These photos are cool. I'm from the Northwest and remember the fair. I've looked for more photos like this and found a lot of them, including historical photos from our area on
Reviewer: dc8ray - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 15, 2004
Subject: Ma Bell at the World Fair
Very interesting. It's always funny to see how people dressed back in the old days. When I think of spending the day walking, I think of a coat, tie and dress shoes.

Funny how most of the phone stuff they talk about has come true. But it took a lot longer than they had planned. Like that really cool 6 pound pager.

Film is worth a look.
Reviewer: Archiveman - favorite - September 4, 2003
Subject: Century 21.
Was that a microwave? You know the thing with the bird pecking at those holes. I swear thats a microwave. Like every one would buy a bird for that thing. Yea right thats not how microwaves are now. Thats BS.
Reviewer: surlychick - favoritefavoritefavorite - August 13, 2003
Subject: Rude teens
Wow, Spuzz wasn't kidding about the teens pushing everyone out of their way. I hated the way the girl kept pawing at the Asian woman's garb, like she was just a mannequin or something. Despite the irritating teens, it was kind of cool to see the upcoming innovations from the phone company.
Reviewer: op712 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 14, 2003
Subject: Century 21 Exposition - the Seattle's World Fair
August of 1962, I went to this World's Fair as a child, and I can relate to these two young adults portrayed in this film from Bell Telephone Systems. Wandering over the fairgrounds with my parents, visiting and witnessing the sights and sounds of this great mecca for the State of Washington. I did witness the exhibits in the Bell Telephone building (since my mother worked for MaBell, I can relate to what was portrayed in this building) and marvel of the displays and presentations that is so presented in this film. The trip up to the observation deck of the Space Needle was the highlight of my thrill, in as well as the numerous rides we took on the monorail from our hotel to the fairgrounds. Yes, this fair was an excellent portrayal of the theme "Century 21 calling", for so much what was presented at this fair, eventually became a part of our lives years down the road.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 26, 2003
Subject: A Total Blast!
A very interesting look into the future, back in the 1965 Worlds Fair in Seattle, with phone features we now take for granted today being first introduced, like Call forwarding, Call answer, three way calling. Nearly every one of these features we now have. I say nearly, as we havent quite perfected the phone to turn on the oven for us.

Having gotten THAT out of our way, this film features simply one of the most obnoxious couples EVER. While it's certainly fun to see 1964 Seattle, I was constantly distracted by the hammy acting of the couple (especially the girl, who almost shrieks in excitement when she sees... an atom display). The FUNNIEST moments (and they are lots of them) is their sheer RUDENESS. They run run run from one exhibit to another, shoving other people out of the way. People recoil at the site of them charging (these are not actors recoiling, but actual visitors of the fair). In one scene, an older woman is SO startled by the couples' charging into the front of the crowd to watch the music she makes SUCH a rude face. This is a TOTAL must see. Easily one of my favorite films on the site.
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavorite - October 16, 2002
Subject: Century 21 Calling
An extremely white teenage couple frolics at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, stopping by the Bell System display to find out about the phones of the future. This is a lot sillier than most Bell System films, mainly due to the frolicking teenage couple, who you could easily imagine doing a 5th Avenue commercial. Mildly campy fun.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***. Also available on Assignment Venezuela and Other Shorts and Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Episode #906: Space Children.
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